Hamilton: Bottas ‘left the door open for Verstappen’ at start

Lewis Hamilton feels Mercedes Formula 1 teammate Valtteri Bottas could have done more to prevent his title rival Max Verstappen from taking the lead at the start of the Mexico City Grand Prix. 
(L to R): Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W12, Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Mercedes AMG F1 W12 and Ma
(L to R): Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W12, Valtteri Bottas (FIN)…
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After Mercedes had surprisingly locked out the front row of the F1 grid in qualifying, Verstappen was able to vault into the lead under braking at Turn 1 by sweeping around the outside of Bottas and Hamilton. 

Verstappen cruised to a dominant victory as he strengthened his grip on the 2021 world championship, pulling 19 points clear of title rival Hamilton with four races to go. 

“I had envisaged it differently, naturally, in the sense that Valtteri maybe would get a better start and I would have tried to get into his tow,” Hamilton said of the start.

“I was obviously alongside him, which was good, and then I was just covering my side of the track trying to make sure no one could come up the inside. So I was trying to keep whichever Red Bull I could see in my mirror behind.

“I thought Valtteri would be doing the same but obviously he left the door open for Max. Max was on the racing line so he did a mega job braking into turn one and because I’m on the inside in the dirt there was no hope for me.”

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff also criticised Bottas for “opening the sea” for Verstappen but admitted Red Bull ultimately had the pace to have “driven circles” around Hamilton even if his drivers had managed to keep the Dutchman behind on the run to the first corner. 

With no answer to Verstappen’s pace, Hamilton was forced into a damage limitation drive as he fended off the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez to salvage second and claim 18 points. 

Bottas was spun around by Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren at Turn 1 and Hamilton admitted having to fight the two Red Bulls single-handedly made his afternoon trickier. 

“It made the race a lot harder, naturally,” he explained. “I think having one car ahead one car there means they can play on strategy. 

“Sergio was super close in that first stint and I couldn’t really pull away, it was a moment where they’re either going to undercut us or we undercut them. 

“We stopped, did a great job, but didn’t have much left on the tyres at the end. Where there’s a will there’s a way and we managed to just keep them behind. 

“One more lap I think it would have been over! But I’m happy I still got second.”

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